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What's Best for Me...

There's not ever a time when I think to myself "how do I decide between choosing me and worrying about other people's opinions?" . However, there does come a time where this very choice must be made. It's this choice that determines how our growth will look and breaks us from the societal norm of "people pleasing". People pleasing is the act of putting the needs of others before your own, even to the point of self-sacrifice. This type of behavior can lead one to depression and anxiety to name a few, yet the thought of telling others "no" almost feels inhumane.

Signs of People Pleasing

You do things to earn approval from others

You are afraid to say "no" for fear of rejection

The needs of others consume all of your time

Even if you disagree with someone, you go along with their ideology

You embody character traits of controlling, perfectionist or overachiever

As of this week, I've finally been set free from this mentality. One of my biggest strengths is my empathy for others, and wanting to do whatever it takes to make life easier for them. This trait shows up most when I am with family and friends. For years, I would agree to co-signing loans, paid for expenses that were not mine (i.e. their cell phone bills), and would always offer to pay for friends to come out to lunch or dinner.

Now ask me if this was the case for me? You may have already guessed not. To add insult to injury, people began to feel entitled to this type of behavior from me, and their levels of disrespect seemed to increase over time. Outwardly, I would put my foot down by avoiding these individuals, but internally I was a mess! I could not grasp why I was so kind and loving to them, but they would not reciprocate. Soon enough, I learned that it was because I was not a person that they respected. Instead, they used me in ways that made me feel as if I could not pull away from a false sense of allegiance.

In the end, people pleasing nearly cost me my identity and sense of self. I was placed in situations where my self esteem was so low that I people pleased as a form of manipulation. By appealing to others, I was able to write the narrative of how they perceived me. This stemmed from a survival tactic of being emotionally abused throughout various relationships where I would attempt to get others to like me by doing what they deemed suitable. The article The Dark Side of People Pleasing: From Humble Brags to Manipulation states that "Some examples I can think of are narcissistic or emotionally overwhelming parents, parents that felt unsafe to the child, or parents that caused physical/sexual/emotional harm or abuse. In response to some of these kinds of parenting, we can use the aforementioned logic and say that the child is trying to protect themselves by pleasing the parent so the parent doesn’t get angry, hurt, or abandon them. It is a fight for survival.”.

Today, I am elated to say that these types of behaviors no longer serve purpose in my life. I have been able to choose myself in order to develop healthy boundaries and sound self-worth. I have been freed to learn how to call out things that do not align with my morals and walk away happily. The Bible says "No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other." (Matthew 6:24). So how can you please others without hating yourself?


Want to learn more about people pleasing? Check out the following articles.

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